Hey, Sandy may or may not have done an interview that she may or may not want posted up on here so that everyone out there can read it if they want, or whatever. Thats a picture of her, but also some other people up there. Or something.
Intro by: Becca Monahan
Interview by: Hana May
Sandy Miranda has always had “that wandering spirit.” As a child, she sometimes found herself wandering by the freeway, much to the surprise of the cops that had to escort her home to an even more surprised mother. Now she wanders professionally, as “Mustard Gas,” her personality as bassist for hardcore band Fucked Up, touring globally. Not surprisingly, a life of mobility has taught Sandy to pack light, and what she carries is revealing, but perhaps even more revealing is what she leaves behind: She carries travel-sized toiletries; she carries a hairdryer; she does not carry makeup; she carries and adds to her collection of vintage dresses, a look she adopted to compliment her figure; for a while, as she began to commit to a more polished aesthetic that included previously unheard of daily showers, she carried a flatiron for her hair, but she now leaves it behind. In an explanation that perhaps perfectly encapsulates the hazards presented to a performer and, perhaps more touchingly, the hazards facing any young woman anywhere, Sandy explains the abandoned hair straightener: ‘I felt weird, especially pulling it out in front of the guys. You don’t want others to see the making of you, you just want to sort of appear.’
No one said evolution was easy; this is especially true for Fucked Up, as the band was not intended for longevity. Rather, it was brought together by Mike, 10,000 Marbles, to release a single album as ‘the most destructive band…a band that would just not work together.’ (After all, their name is considered unprintable by journalism’s standard, The New York Times, refer to them as ****** **.) This is the crisis faced by any movement that designed itself as a suicide mission against the audience, against art, and against itself: You must evolve or else disperse in the ruins of your own destruction (like Dada, the anti-art movement that lay the foundations for surrealism but could not be sustained for more than a decade). 30-plus albums later, Fucked Up has blossomed rather than destruct–their hardcore sound now flirts with shoegaze; their bassist wears dresses; they stay in hotels with beds. Maybe this is the story of any adolescent–initial anger and destructiveness that gave way to more measured, more considered, and ultimately more indpendent young people. Maybe that young woman talented musician, who has found herself increasingly happy and, by her own admission, ‘normal,’ but hasn’t given up wandering yet. Maybe it’s time to let her do the talking.
Thank you for doing this especially when you’re on vacation.
Damian gets all the attention so it’s not too often I get interviewed. I appreciate it.
I’m sure it must be a fight for who speaks when you guys get interviewed.
I’m like, “You take it, I’m just going to hang out over here in the corner.” [Laughs.]
[Laughs.] You all have nicknames and yours is mustard gas. Where did it come from?
To be honest I can’t remember the origins of my nickname. [Laughs.] Damian said I came up with it but I have no recollection. I think it was all accidental. There’s a long tradition in punk to have a pseudonym, a superego of your own, which I liked. I liked the separation of one version of myself, which I have with my family and friends and work and one of this alternative life of mine.
Whose nickname is your favorite?
I like them all for different reasons. There’s “10,000 Marbles,” which is Mike’s. Josh is “Concentration Camp.” He’s Jewish, which was a little too offensive so he changed it to “Gulag” which is also mildly offensive, but that’s him. He can call himself whatever he likes. There’s Damian, who is “Pink Eyes,” which has a pretty gross origin– it comes from a porn movies but he’s not a porn type guy. He used to work in an underground video store and they had some interesting B movie porn. Jonah, “Mr. Jo.” I guess my favorite is probably “10,000 marbles,” no reason why, I just like that there are numbers and letters in it maybe. It’s really all just randomness that makes it fun for me.
You’re probably the best-looking guitarist to have a pumpkin on your head while playing. Where did this idea come from?
We had always wanted to do a fun Halloween show. So about four years ago we decided to do one and we just wanted to be ridiculous but also uniform, but we didn’t want to go a traditional costume route. I think it was Josh’s idea to put pumpkins on our heads and it worked. It just hurts a little cause the stem was poking us on our head.
You needed some padding in there. You didn’t think it through.
Yeah I needed some. I did like three songs with it on. Mike was able to do a full set, which was 45 minutes at the time. Looking back at that footage it was fun and I can’t believe it was four years ago and since then we’ve done shows every Halloween and they’ve become a thing in Toronto.
Being a girl in an all guy group do you often get talked into doing crazy things that maybe you wouldn’t normally do?
I’m actually a pretty silly gal and the guys are also kind of silly—I’d say not as much as me.
Oh! You’re influencing them?
Yeah, I just kind of roll with the punches so I have no qualms about poking fun at myself. Often I’ll be the first one to do it. I’m also pretty agreeable too; I don’t like to cause ripples in the band because at the end of the day you need to work with these people all the time. I go along with it unless I feel like they’re ridiculing me and then I’ll say something. But for the most part we all can laugh at ourselves.
I know you always play in a dress or a skirt, is this fashion or function?
It’s a bit of both but its funny growing up I was a bit of a tomboy and I always wore pants up until I guess I was 21 or 22. Then I transitioned to skirts—I’m not sure if it was ‘cause I started working an office job, maybe that influenced me. But I know being a girl of size it was kind of difficult buying pants that would fit me right and I just didn’t like how they looked on me and I’m curvy, so I figured a dress would just work better with my body type.
Yeah, show it off.
Yeah. So I figured they were more flattering for my physique. In Toronto there are a lot of cool vintage shops and [through] touring I’ve been able to come across some great shops. You can just have more fun with dresses.
Do you do a lot of vintage shopping on tour?
Yeah, I do. It can get frustrating though ‘cause you have to really dig and it takes a lot of time and the dimensions are off on each dress. It really takes a lot of time but I’ve had some good luck. I can work a rack in 10 minutes. And a good buy can make me smile for weeks.
Especially a good vintage buy– you feel like it’s so special.
Yeah, especially since I have to be thrifty. I quit my job this past August cause things were getting so busy with the band. I never ever in a million years thought I would be in a position that I could do that, but it happened.
Would you consider yourself more feminine now or still a tomboy?
I guess more feminine but still a tomboy in ways. I’m not too fussy. I don’t really mess with makeup because it takes too much upkeep and when you’re on tour you have to really pack light. There’s only room for a couple pairs of shoes so you have to really pick your pieces carefully. I’ve been gone for like 3 weeks and you’ve got three dresses and four separates and you just have to make it work. So I’m not so much tomboy or super girlie– I just feel like a young woman. Growing up my mom and my sister they weren’t too fussy about looking super feminine; it was just about being natural and showing of your natural skin and just being cool.
Being on the road isn’t exactly the most “hygiene friendly” situation, especially if you’re living in a van. What are some things that you have to bring with you?
I’ve got it down to a science. Like a document—a pack list that I pull up before every time I go on tour. I buy the little…shampoo that’s about 5 inches tall. Those are perfect for flying. So I’ve got my conditioner and shampoo, face scrub, body scrub thing, towel. I need my hair dryer. My hair does weird things when it dries especially bangs. When I got bangs a couple years, I got a straightener…but I felt weird, especially pulling it out in front of the guys. You don’t want others to see the making of you: You just want to sort of appear. So I stopped bringing the flat iron a few years ago.
When we were in China recently we had to really streamline. When we got to Shanghai we had to leave our stuff a someone’s house ad use knapsacks and there was no room for the hair dryer. So if you look for any pictures from China my hair is not good. But you know what, who cares? I was in China. But touring Europe and America I want to look somewhat presentable because you’re going to shows and the girls are just coming from their homes and they’re looking all good. I don’t want to look like a total slob. And it can really do a number on your self esteem. In earlier tours I was a little more punk and didn’t care—I didn’t shower everyday and I kind of liked the survivor aspect of it and we just got a little dirty and I guess that was kind of common with underground punk. But I remember on our first tour that someone said on a message board we smelled like food rot bombs, and I was like, ‘Ok this is got to be changed.’ But now I shower everyday. There was tours when we wouldn’t get hotels and we’d sleep on floors and there was one bathroom between six band members. You couldn’t get one every day, but now it’s a little bit different. Now I’m on it.
And of course I can’t tour without my computer because we self-manage, so we really need access. We need to be able to get our work done and plan our tours and figure out logistics.
Do you get hit on a lot at shows?
I don’t know cause I can’t always tell. But usually no. If I feel like I am [being hit on] I walk away cause its awkward for me. I’m not really flirty or like overly effeminate, so I tend to try and neutralize conversations with guys that could potentially be coming on to me. I just play the friend card– I’m really good at that.
You’ve had a lot of practice at that?
I’ve had a lot of practice being around guy friends all my life; I’m really comfortable being with guys. If I am interested in return, sure I’ll add a little bit of a wink or whatever but for the most part I keep it straight. When we’re meeting people they’re meeting a bass player in a band and not me. I have to be conscious of that. And that also makes me a little uncomfortable. There have been some instances where they’re maybe a little star-struck and I don’t believe that they could ever really get to know me because of the band. So I’d rather get to know guys outside of the band.
And outside of shows.
Yeah and I think the same goes for all the guys in my band. They all have girlfriends and for the most parts all girls they’ve met outside of the band entity. It seems like a lot of my friends don’t want a partnership that’s sort of in the same thing that they are. I know that that’s true for me. It depends on the person ultimately but I’ve been around hardcore punk guys all my life but again of course it all depends on the person. I might be eating my words in the future.
Did you have to change the name to f-ed up to get played on more mainstream radio?
Well we never changed the name; people can call us what they want. If they can’t say Fucked Up, they’ll say F-ed up. Fine, we’re not going to freak out– we understand. In The New York Times they won’t write F or anything. They’ll just have 9 asterisks—one for each letter. No F, no D. It’s funny because we’ve been come to be known as the band with the unprintable name. A lot of times when were crossing borders, the border officials will have a bit of a laugh—only a couple times will they be offended. I remember on our first tour when we were getting our permits at the border he was like, ‘You’re never going to get anywhere with a name like that. I don’t know what you’re thinking.’ And then three months later we were in The Times. It’s like everyone swears; it’s no big deal. Slowly but surely its just going to be more accepted.
As a kid did you have a rebellious streak at all?
Not really. When I was really young, I used to not quite run away from home but, I used to wander. I had that wondering spirit. I could get lost in a city. The problem though is when I was young, like six, I would end up on the side of the freeway and then the cops would find me and bring me home. But I was never running away, I was just a very independent child. During my teenager years, my mom was menopausal so it was like two sets of different hormones at each other and we fought but that’s typical teenage rebellion nothing that was directly related to punk kind of rebelling. Now it’s like I’m in my late-twenties and I’m not angry anymore, I’m doing alright. Generally, I guess I’m kind of normal.
In your words what happened with that whole Rolling Stone/Camel thing?
It’s kind of ongoing. Even though we’re involved it’s kinda of away from us. We got an email form Chloe and AIDS Wolf in Montreal saying that there was an ad in Rolling Stone that featured her band and our band. It was just kind of a mystery of how that happened. We dug into and realized there was 190 bands that were mentioned. It’s a vague ad-slash-editorial piece but was book-ended with Camel Cigarettes insignia. We were contacted by [the] lawyer [who is] representing all the bands in a class action lawsuit. It affected us, like most of the band members don’t smoke—I do—but I would never want to align my band with it. Like it’s something I’m not proud of. It’s a disgusting habit and it kills and we just don’t want to have to condone the use of it—without our permission especially. So we hopped on, but I haven’t really heard anything. You know court proceedings take a long time. It was a bit upsetting to hear about it and I was also kind of shocked we were even included in it.
But I’m not expecting to get anything from it—that’s not the point of it. The point is these multi-billion dollar companies can’t use someone’s identity for their own purpose. It’s ridiculous. It’s a matter of principal.
How does it feel to come from a really underground scene and to now be a band that’s playing on MTV and being mentioned in The New York Times?
Everything is unexpected like everything I thought about this band has been the opposite in every way. Mike, 10,00 Marbles, brought as all together. He has said that his purpose was to create the most destructive band–a band that just would not work together. We all have very different personalities—we look totally different, we don’t share the same style or interests or anything. While we only aimed to release one record, we’ve now released like 30, like I’ve lost track. Originally our aim was only to play in Toronto and here we’ve been touring around the world. It’s just been a total shock to us that things have taken off as they have.
And I think it’s kind of exciting now. I’m of the mind set, like, what else can happen? It’s totally been outrageous. I’m not going to say no to anything it seems like this is just a snowball that keeps getting greater and I’ll just go where it goes.
What about The Times?
That’s like a total honor and I have clippings at home. I’m just really excited ‘cause we’re a pretty awkward band, awkward acting, awkward looking and I never though that that would work in a mass setting because so much of what’s popular is mass manufactured and fabricated and just put together so the fact that five real people can do what we do with their own blood sweat and tears and get noticed for it. It’s reassuring. It’s kinda cool that that still happens: You don’t have to have a manager and make meetings with big record labels and all that fake stuff. You can still do it on hard work and on ingenuity.
We’re going to start writing a new record over the fall, which will have been over a full year since the last one. [We'll] probably release it in the spring time. These things always change though. I just want to travel and keep meeting new people and learning things about myself and about the world.
Where’s your heart at?
My heart is in friendship because they tend to last longer than relationships—they tend to dig deeper. They tend to teach you more about you because sometimes relationships end up being about someone else and not you. And even when I like a guy it ends up being a friendship. So there you go, my heart is in friendships.